Best known for the Civil War battles fought nearby, Manassas began in 1852 as a junction stop on two local railroads, the Manassas Gap and the Orange and Alexandria. The railroad brought the two armies together in 1861 and 1862, and great portions of the town were destroyed. The presentday Southern Railway (and Amtrak) still helps to define the town. Manassas experienced significant growth after the Civil War and became the county seat in 1892. In 1905 fire destroyed a portion of downtown Manassas. Albert Speiden, a Manassas architect with an office in Washington, and the builders John, Frank, and Ira Cannon designed and built much of the town in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After 1920 the town languished until the 1960s, when the explosive growth of northern Virginia began to reach this far west. Manassas and the surrounding communities of Manassas Park and Yorkshire exhibit the undistinguished results.
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